Strategy

Deutsche Bank Says Curb On Employees' Mobile Messaging Wasn't Ordered By Regulator

Josh O'Neill, Assistant Editor, January 17, 2017

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This publication has more information on the decision by the bank to clamp down on forms of employee communication as it seeks to tighten controls in the wake of regulatory shortcomings.

A move by Deutsche Bank to curtail the use of electronic messaging services by employees on company-issued mobile phones was not an order from regulators but an internal decision, this publication has learned. 

A spokesperson for the bank yesterday confirmed that a memo sent last week to employees ordered them to disable text messaging applications on work phones. Unapproved messaging services such as WhatsApp and Google Talk cannot be used for business purposes, including on personal phones, the note stated.

"We fully understand that the deactivation will change your day-to-day work and we regret any inconvenience this may cause," the memo stated. "However, this step is necessary to ensure Deutsche Bank continues to comply with regulatory and legal requirements." 

The memo was signed by Kim Hammonds and Sylvie Matherat, the lender's chief operating officer and chief regulatory officer, respectively. Both are members of its management board. 

The new restrictions take effect this quarter, according to the memo, which suggested email services could replace some texting that employees do with external clients. All Deutsche Bank employees are affected.

The Frankfurt-headquartered banking giant has been under fire from regulators and paid hefty fines in the past for allegedly lax communications controls and failure to retain electronic voice recordings and other records as required. 

“Over time, technology has expanded and so have regulatory requirements,” a person familiar with the matter told this publication, asserting that the bank's move to curb communication capabilities of staff was “not an order from regulators”, however. 

“Management has decided to do this because of challenges relating to monitoring and maintaining staff communications. It was an internal decision,” the person added.

Earlier this month, the German lender agreed to pay $95 million to settle a US government lawsuit alleging that the group committed tax fraud for using “insolvent” shell companies to conceal significant tax liabilities from the Internal Revenue Service in 2000.

In December last year, Deutsche Bank agreed to a $7.2 billion settlement with the US Department of Justice over its sale and pooling of toxic mortgage securities in the run-up to the catastrophic 2008 financial tsunami.

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